Apple accused of ripping off famous Swiss clock design

The iPad maker could be in hot water for reportedly using a trademarked design it does not own the rights to as part of its iOS 6 clock app.

Apple's iOS6 clock and an official SBB watch from Mondaine Apple/Mondaine

The new look of Apple's clock app on the iPad that came alongside iOS 6 yesterday is ruffling some feathers abroad.

In a report in Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger (by way of Macrumors), the Swiss Federal Railway service, or SBB, has taken offense to the app's design, to which it says it owns the trademark.

The 1944 design by then-SBB employee Hans Hilfiker (which you can see here) is used in station clocks throughout the railway system, which is well-known for its timeliness. It's also licensed to Mondaine, a Swiss watch manufacturer. 

An SBB spokesman told Tages-Anzeiger that he was pleased Apple was using the design, but noted that the company was not authorized to do so. The report suggests a legal complaint is being drafted as a result. 

Apple is no stranger to defending the look and feel of its own designs, including clocks. In 2009, Apple sent a letter of rejection to popular app developer Tapbots -- the makers of Tweetbot and other iOS apps -- saying the clock icon the company used in its pocket converter application looked too much like the icon used in Apple's own telephone app. Tapbots changed its design as a result.

More recently, the company's defense of its designs has extended to the look and feel of its smartphones and tablets. The very spearhead of its massive litigation against Samsung has focused on what it says are similarities -- not just in hardware, but in the look and design of its applications and iconography as well.


CNET has reached out to Apple for comment, and we'll update this post when we know more.

 

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